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January 6, 2013

Movie Review: Lost Horizon (1973, Blu-ray)

Review by- Rob Sibley

Musicals are hit or miss with me, sometimes I dig em... other times not so much. So I was pretty damn curious when I popped in the Twilight Time Blu-ray release of 1973's “Lost Horizon”. Before seeing the film I already knew that it was a massive failure for the studio and was pretty much a joke in Hollywood. I can happily say I enjoyed this wonderfully inept musical. Yes, it's a bad film but with a lot of good stuff in it. 

LH is a musical remake of the classic 1937 Frank Kapra film which starred Ronald Colman and Jane Wyatt. That film by all means is a masterpiece of it's time and still holds up to this day. Sadly the musical remake of which I'm reviewing didn't have the talented Kapra involved. But they did bring in a heavy weight to do the music and it was none other then the legendary Burt Bacharah. On top of that you have the acting... well singing talents of Peter Finch, Liv Ullman, Sall Kellerman, George Kennedy, Olivia Hussey, Michael Yorke, Bobby Van and last but certainly not least the late great British thesp John Gielgud.

That is certainly not a cast to scoff at, in all actuality it's probably one of the finest casts assembled for a film from the 1970's. With that sheer amount of talent on screen with Burt Bacharach doing the music how could you go wrong? Well you apparently everything that could went wrong, did go wrong during production. Michael Yorke who to this day is still a very talented actor is embarrassed by this picture. Not surprising since all the actors are trained thespians... not trained singers. Just look at the latest production of “Le Miz” to see that just because you can act, doesn't mean your ass can sing.

I haven't mentioned a plot but it's good because they pretty much followed the original film scene for scene. But director Charles Jarrot is no Frank Capra. The plot concerns a group of Europeans who escape a war torn China only to have their plane crash land into the Himalayan mountains. They are soon rescued by the locals and brought to the Utopian-like village of "Shangra-La".

Fun premise for sure, but you'd be better off watching the original film or even an episode of the TV series The Prisoner (similar concept in some regards).

The film is packed to the brim with bad 1970's melodrama and awful singing all of which gives the film a sort of hammy campy charm. 

Sadly though, no-one really shines in the film. I was hoping that at the very least that at least one of the members of the cast could carry a tune. Nope, no such luck with this one. Even the costumes and sets look alarmingly cheap for a production that cost 12 millions bucks to make. Certainly not chump change back in 73.  

This film certainly falls into the category of so bad it's kind of good. But I can only see fans of the film or musical buffs wanting to pick this one up.

Despite the film being a turkey with a capital T the Blu-ray certainly isn't. Twilight Time must of put a lot of time and effort into this release because it's really outstanding on all fronts. First up Twilight Time has wisely decided to release the full uncut version of the film which clocks in at 150 minutes.

The 1080p AVC encoded transfer looks stunning, all the details are vivid and lush. No softness here folks, this Blu-ray really does pop with color. The 5.1 DTS MA audio track is nothing short of a revelation, I don't even think the audio sounded this good on the films original (Al-bit brief) theatrical run.

Extras include a 10 minute (vintage) promo featurette, twenty or so minutes of additional Bacharach song demos, an alternate take on the “I come to you” song and dance number and some trailers and TV spots. 

Fans of this film will fall in love with Twilight Time's release of it. I'm sure it has never looked or sounded this good in the past. But this musical is to campy for this reviewers tastes. Hardcore fans BUY IT, musical fan RENT IT, average Joe? SKIP IT.

But major props to the folks at Twilight Time for really knocking this release out of the park in terms of the audio/visual aspect.

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